Platte County, north of Cheyenne, is emblematic of the High Plains. Its sweeping hills and plains, mountain views, wind, and wide skies have a special beauty and history. Platte County boasts wagon ruts on the Oregon Trail, clearly visible indentations in the stone where thousands of wheels crossed, and cliffs where travelers etched their names. The Wheatland Irrigation District was one of the first in the U.S. Platte County was part of the Swann Land and Cattle Company, a ranching empire along the Front Range. But over time Platte County has steadily lost population, historic buildings, and businesses. Today the county is hoping to revitalize its economy through the state’s Main Street Program and heritage tourism. The Your Town workshop in Wheatland focused on those very issues. The keynote speaker, Ed McMahon, inspired participants with visions of how to build better communities and capitalize on heritage assets. Scott Day was a key speaker who provided Main Street expertise throughout the workshop. Other speakers addressed heritage tourism, building local economies, and design. A walking tour of downtown Wheatland reinforced awareness of the assets from which the community can build. The day of intense work was topped off with a catered barbeque dinner in Hartville (population 77).
It’s hoped that the Your Town workshop will help lay the framework for the Main Street Program in Platte County and provide a base of ideas and inspiration to build on.
-Excerpted from Your Town: Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, Update, Fall, 2009